by Travis Harvey
So you’ve been here a few weeks and you’re as sick of rice and beans on your plate as you are tired of Billie Jean and I want you back being played at benefit parties. So you think to yourself that you’d really like to cook something special for your host family, something that, after scouring Xela for ingredients from home and sweating over a hot stove all afternoon, you can show them just what kind of culinary talent you’ve been hiding all along. And they may look back at you, very politely and say… bien. But where to find such shocking ingredients? Well here’s the scoop, and it ain’t Paiz…
Casa de las Especias 16 Avenida “A”, Zona 3.
Ground cumin, curry powder, mustard seeds and more, including a good selection of tea making (mostly sleep inducing) leaves and petals. Also have catalogue in English/Spanish to you don’t have to guess which brown powder you are buying.
El Pasaje 12 Av, Pasaje Enriquez, next to Bar Tecun.
Probably the best restaurant in Xela also boasts the best deli, with a mean cured meats and an imported aged cheese selection that you won’t find anywhere else (and if you do, be very careful). Also mad props for anchovies, Arborio rice and Toblerone chocolate.
Almacén El Mundo 17 Av 0-46, Zona 3.
Hidden gem that stocks various soys, prepared pastes and dry spice mixes along with rice paper, rice noodles and generally all things appropriate to serve with rice. Also sporting a number of liquids involving the fermentation of fish. Good stuff.
Deposito El Florida 8 Calle 11-15, Zona 1.
Lots of things in tins, which is weird, but it does mean coconut milk and whole peeled tomatoes are always at the ready. Also, for fans of baking, yeast and baking powder (Levadura y Royal, respectively) are available. Now all you need is an oven.